A class at UCSB helped set in motion a future of civic activism for Spencer Brandt. 

Brandt, originally from Visalia, has emerged as one of the region’s new generation of activists helping to improve the quality of life and governance in Isla Vista. 

“We saw civil unrest during Deltopia, and weeks later a mass shooting that killed six residents,” said Brandt, president of the Isla Vista Community Services District. “This really left our entire community traumatized and shocked.”

The events, Brandt said, inspired a community to make things safer. The community services district focuses on public safety, arts, cultural programming, transporation, street cleaning, compost collecting and other programs.”

When he arrived at UCSB, he found the people friendly, the culture vibrant, and the geography of the land beautiful.

He also noticed problems related to public safety, incomplete sidewalks, and the availability of housing. 

“Housing was kind of like The Hunger Games, if you could even get it,” Brandt said.

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Brandt credits a history class he took at UCSB with Professor Alice O’Connor for further instilling a sense of purpose. He learned about previous generations of Isla Vista activists and efforts at cityhood, or working for better representation from the county, going back into the 1970s.

“We are standing on their shoulders, and that is what has allowed us to finally be successful,” Brandt said. 

Brandt, the son of an elementary school teacher and a city planner, is also the organzing director for the Santa Barbara County Democratic Party, where he works to get the vote out for Democratic candidates.

“Of course, this past Tuesday, our big focus was Susan Salcido, our county superintendent of schools, helping her fend off attacks from the right ring on public education, and we were very successful,” Brandt said. 

Josh Molina has been a journalist in Santa Barbara for 20 years. He also covered City Hall for the San Jose Mercury News. In addition to working as a reporter at Noozhawk, he teaches journalism at Cal State University, Northridge and Santa Barbara City College. Please subscribe to his You Tube channel for more content.